Amphetamines (a.k.a. “speed” or “uppers”) are a class of central nervous system stimulants that have a long history of use for losing weight and treating ADHD. In general, amphetamines are said to have legitimate medical uses (though they can be quite addictive). However, one particular type of amphetamine has been mostly abandoned in medical practice due to its extremely addictive potential: methamphetamine, aka crystal meth.
What is Crystal Meth?
In terms of chemistry, methamphetamine contains an extra methyl group than regular amphetamines. This means it is broken down in a fundamentally different way when consumed, which is why it is so much more addictive. When used recreationally, crystal meth can be injected, snorted or smoked – all of which are extremely dangerous.
Crystal meth is also all the more dangerous because it is produced (or “cooked”) for illegal sale, often by amateur chemists. This means that there is no control over the purity of street meth and the side effects it may cause. Crystal meth production causes air pollution, crime (materials are often shoplifted from pharmacies) and danger to the surrounding area. It is not at all uncommon to hear of a “meth lab” exploding due to the dangerous and volatile chemicals that are used.
What are the Effects of Using Crystal Meth?
Crystal meth causes extremely severe and dangerous effects for those who use and abuse it. The psychological effects of meth that are often desirable may be:
- Intense euphoria
- Sexual arousal
- Alertness & concentration
- Increased confidence & sociability
However, the negative long-term effects include:
- Decreased appetite or anorexia
- Depression & suicidal behavior
- Dry skin & acne
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Psychomotor agitation
- Psychosis (which may be permanent)
- Meth mouth
“Meth mouth” is one of the most well known – and also one of the most ominous – consequences of addiction to crystal methamphetamine. This condition is characterized by noticeable tooth decay or even loss of teeth. Contrary to popular belief amongst meth users, this is not merely a consequence of smoking meth. According to the American Dental Association, meth mouth is likely caused by a combination of drug-induced dry mouth and teeth grinding on the one hand, and the poor dental hygiene and dietary habits that generally accompany addiction on the other.
Detecting Crystal Meth Abuse & Addiction
How can you tell if your loved one may be using meth, or if they are addicted to it? These are some warning signs you should watch out for:
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid breathing
- Drastic changes in mood
- Drastic changes in energy level
- Drastic changes in appetite
- High body temperature